A special trial court in Islamabad on Friday sentenced former federal minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi to 16 years in prison in the Hajj corruption case.
Kazmi was arrested from the court premises after the announcement of the judgment.
The two other accused in the scam, former additional secretary to ministry of religious affairs Aftab Ahmed and former director general Hajj Rao Shakeel were sentenced to 16 years and 40 years in prison, respectively.
Justice Malik Nazir Ahmad was hearing the Hajj corruption case.
The Hajj scam surfaced in 2010 when the then minister for science and technology Azam Swati accused Kazmi of corruption following which the Supreme Court took suo moto notice of the case.
Kazmi, Shakeel and Aftab were accused of indulging in widespread corruption during the course of renting residential buildings for Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and causing a loss of a billion rupees to the national exchequer. Most of the buildings rented by the Hajj administrators were five kilometres away from the Haram Sharif while according to law; the accommodation for pilgrims should not be more than two kilometres away.
A case was registered leading to Kazmi’s arrest on March 15, 2011 but he was granted bail by a Rawalpindi court in August 2012.
In its 2013 decision, the Supreme Court had ordered the Federal Investigation Agency to carry out thorough investigation of this case.
Former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani had sacked both Kazmi and Swati from their offices.
On Sep 2, 2009, Kazmi had survived an apparent attempt on his life by motorcycle-borne gunmen who shot at his car near a bustling market in the capital.
The driver of the vehicle was killed on the spot, while a security guard was wounded.
The former minister got his leg wounded and underwent a surgery for fractures while the police did not comment on the possible motives for the drive-by attack.
The sentenced have the right to appeal.